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Appeals court reverses adoption; birth mother denied due process

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A Jasper County mother was denied due process when her children were allowed to be adopted while the birth mother’s appeal of her termination of parental rights was pending, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday.

The court reversed the adoption order and remanded to the Jasper Superior Court a case that also raised issues about the constitutionality of Indiana’s adoption statutes. The case rose to the Court of Appeals previously in 2008, when the court reversed the mother’s termination order.

“We did so without knowledge that the children were adopted while birth mother’s appeal was pending,” Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote in In the Matter of the Adoption of Minor Children: C.B.M. and C.R.M.: C.A.B. v. J.D.M. and K.L.M., 37A03-1204-AD-149. “Birth mother also knew nothing of the adoption proceedings.”

The Department of Child Services argued that it was not required to provide the birth mother notice of the adoption proceedings or obtain her consent because her parental rights had been terminated, citing I.C. 31-19-2.5-4(4) and 31-19-9-8(a)(8).

“The state’s consent to the adoption of the children was arbitrary and capricious and in derogation of birth mother’s procedural due process right to a meaningful appeal of the termination order,” Bailey wrote in an opinion joined by Judge John Baker.

“The adoption decree is therefore void. We do not, however, conclude that the statutory scheme for adoption in Indiana is unconstitutional. We therefore reverse the adoption court’s denial of birth mother’s petition to set aside the adoption decree and remand this matter for further proceedings.”

Judge Nancy Vaidik concurred in result in a separate opinion and said the statutes should be read to provide notice to a birth parent who has not exhausted appeals of termination rights.

“While I conclude that the provisions of the adoption statute challenged here are constitutional, I reach this conclusion by reading the statute to excuse notice of adoption proceedings only when a parent’s rights have been terminated as a final matter through exhaustion of all appellate remedies.”
 

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  1. Family court judges never fail to surprise me with their irrational thinking. First of all any man who abuses his wife is not fit to be a parent. A man who can't control his anger should not be allowed around his child unsupervised period. Just because he's never been convicted of abusing his child doesn't mean he won't and maybe he hasn't but a man that has such poor judgement and control is not fit to parent without oversight - only a moron would think otherwise. Secondly, why should the mother have to pay? He's the one who made the poor decisions to abuse and he should be the one to pay the price - monetarily and otherwise. Yes it's sad that the little girl may be deprived of her father, but really what kind of father is he - the one that abuses her mother the one that can't even step up and do what's necessary on his own instead the abused mother is to pay for him???? What is this Judge thinking? Another example of how this world rewards bad behavior and punishes those who do right. Way to go Judge - NOT.

  2. Right on. Legalize it. We can take billions away from the drug cartels and help reduce violence in central America and more unwanted illegal immigration all in one fell swoop. cut taxes on the savings from needless incarcerations. On and stop eroding our fourth amendment freedom or whatever's left of it.

  3. "...a switch from crop production to hog production "does not constitute a significant change."??? REALLY?!?! Any judge that cannot see a significant difference between a plant and an animal needs to find another line of work.

  4. Why do so many lawyers get away with lying in court, Jamie Yoak?

  5. Future generations will be amazed that we prosecuted people for possessing a harmless plant. The New York Times came out in favor of legalization in Saturday's edition of the newspaper.

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